Military Court Convicts Three Iraqis for Plot

A military court convicted three Iraqis Tuesday of smuggling rockets and hand grenades into Jordan (search), in connection with a plot to attack U.S. and Israeli targets in the kingdom.

Only two of the men are in police custody; their 15 year sentences were immediately commuted to 71/2 years with hard labor. They said they would appeal.

The third, Muawiya Muhanna (search), was sentenced to 15 years in absentia.

The three were charged with crimes including the import and possession of handguns, automatic rifles, hand grenades and rockets. However, the court found insufficient evidence to convict them on a charge of "conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks" in Jordan (search) — an offense punishable by death.

The men were arrested Oct. 12, 2003 when police stopped their vehicle — carrying concealed weapons — at a roadblock on a highway just west of Amman.

Two of the men, Ahmed Mohammed Ali Ayed, 26, and Lawrence Hamid Rashid Muhanna, 28, have been in police custody since they were arrested.

Authorities charged Lawrence Muhanna — the fugitive's brother — as the chief conspirator and the one who purchased the weapons from Iraq.

The indictment alleged he'd contacted a Jordanian man identified as Abu-Ali who agreed to the plan of carrying out "military operations against Israeli and American interests on Jordanian land."

The charge sheet said Muhanna's fugitive brother dispatched the weapons to Amman from Maan, the southern desert city of Maan, 130 miles south of the capital Amman, after smuggling them into the country by truck.

Jordan, a moderate Arab nation with close ties to the United States and a peace treaty with Israel, has been the target of several terrorist plots in recent years.